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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

THE BULL-HEADED PREMIER                   107

He compared the state of public opinion o£ the present with the past.

"I remember hearing in my childhood from the elders that the
censors always reflected faithfully the public opinion of the country;
what the public praised, the censors also praised, and what the public
disliked, the censors condemned. . . . Now the country is in an up-
roar and grumblings are heard on every side; it should not be difficult
for Your Majesty to gauge what the state of public opinion is like."

Su developed the raison d'etre of the censorate by a comparative study
Df different systems of government in the different dynasties. Here he
showed himself as a great advocate, scholarly in manner, cogent in
reasoning, penetrating in insight.

"From a study of the governmental systems of the ancient times, we
see that there was always the question of balance of power between
the central and the provincial governments. In the Chou and Tang
dynasties the system inclined toward decentralisation, while in the
Chin and Wei it inclined toward centralisation. The result of over-
centralisation was that a few corrupt men close to the court were
able to make the emperor their tool for power, while the result of
over-decentralisation was that the provincial governors became too
powerful and sometimes raised the banner of rebellion. A great
statesman shows foresight by providing against the causes of corrup-
tion and decay while a country is yet.at its height of prosperity. . . .
In comparison with the other dynasties, it [the present dynasty] may
be described as inclining towards a centralised system of government.
I do not presume to know what the founders of this dynasty, the
Imperial Ancestors, had in mind as the means to check the dangers
of over-centralisation. But it seems to me the establishment of the
Imperial Censorate was meant as such a safeguard. . . . Since the
founding of the Sung house, never has an official censor been severely
punished. . . . When there was important information concerning
the country, everyone was free to speak up, regardless of his rank.
If it concerned the personal character and morals of the emperor, he
always listened with attentive respect; if it concerned important
government policies, the cabinet ministers held themselves ready for
questioning. This was carried to such an extent in the regime of.
Jentsung that it was derisively said of the cabinet ministers of the
time that they were merely servants of the censorate carrying out
their orders.

"Now there is a deep purpose in the establishment of the system of
the censorate, of which people are not usually aware. It is true that
what the censors suggest may not be always right, but it is of the